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Ever wondered what its like working in the ‘glamorous’ world of professional sports… well here is an example of what life is like as a Physiotherapist working in professional Rugby League at the elite Super League level. I’ve chosen a typical home game with a 3 o’clock kick off for this blog post. 

7.30 am – Arrive at training facility

Get the coffee machine on and start planning the day. Physio’s in pro sports will have already planned their day out and know exactly where they are at with their injured players. This is more of a recap of that plan and liaising with strength and conditioning staff so they are fully in the loop.

8.00 am – Injured players Rehab

To avoid players being sat around, we would generally stagger treatment and rehabilitation into 30-60 minute time slots. Players who are awaiting their time slot would be in the gym working through a scaled/alternative weight regime… or if they are really {un)lucky they might find themselves working through a tough Watt Bike session for conditioning.

11.00 am – Game Prep

No rest for the wicked after a busy morning, time to make sure all the emergency pitch side equipment is in working order, check the run on bags are fully stocked and start setting up the medical room at the stadium. This job is far easier during a home game, no long drive, no unloading the coach and everything is familiar and accessible.

As well as the medial room being set up to handle all possible eventualities from the game, a warm up area should be laid out. Also an area where players could get pre-game massage/ treatment would be set up, this was usually in the shower area.

12.30 pm – Pre Game treatments/ Strapping

Now this is where the ‘game faces’ start turning up, the players are getting switched on and ready for the car crash they are about to expose their bodies to. This is also the time where we as Physios get our heads down and work relentlessly for the next couple of hours taping shoulders, knees, wrists, thumbs and even ears tat ave previously been exposed to the dreaded ‘Cauliflower Ear’. Usually it’s the same faces getting exactly the same strapping or treatment at exactly the same time before kick-off, but every now and again a spanner is thrown in the works and a mild panic ensues over a Calf that just won’t loosen off or a player deciding to try a different strapping technique.

2.30 pm – Warm Ups 

If all goes well this is a nice time to soak up the atmosphere, watch the warm up and check the run on bag for the tenth time.

3.00 pm – GAME TIME

By far the best part of being part of a professional sports team, while pitch side as a Physiotherapist you are not only responsible for the wellbeing of the players, you are also a means of communication between the coaching staff and the players. The worst-case scenario would be a life threatening situation in which an airway is restricted, cardiac arrest or a severe head injury. Sadly this can happen, players are at risk on the pitch and for that very reason we as Physio’s require extensive further training to make sure we can deal with these situations. Luckily, at the professional level we have a robust team of Physiotherapists and usually at least two match day doctors per team. Thankfully I have never had to deal with any life threatening situations, although I have seen a fair few gruesome injuries including requiring the of the spinal board so I’ve been very thankful for having a great team of medics working with me.

4.30 pm – Match Finished

4.45 pm – Post-match injury assessments

Time to see what is serious and needs possible assessment and intervention in the morning. Some players will need to be taking the ‘Game Ready’ Ice/ compression machine home with them, some will need compression wrap applied. Some will require stitching from the doc or minor wounds cleaned and dressed to avoid infections. Most just want to have their post-match meal and get home ASAP for some much needed rest and recovery. 

5.30 pm – Clean-up/ Pack up

In a good team environment we would all be helping to clean the changing room and pack the equipment away.

6.00 pm – Home time

6.30 pm – Collapse on the Sofa in a heap 

So there it is, its really not as glamorous as people think but it’s great fun. Professional sport isn’t for everyone, you’ve got to be very flexible and be open to working long hours for sometimes little gratitude. But it’s a path in my career that I’m very glad I had!

Wrap Up

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